4 Reasons Your Sales Contests Are Failing

Sales fails
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As a customer success manager at LevelEleven, my job revolves around helping VP’s of Sales and Marketing successfully improve their teams’ performance. Part of that, comes from helping them with the strategy needed to run powerful, automated sales contests. And in doing that, there are four mistakes I constantly see. Are you making any of these sales contest “fails”?


1. You wait to launch contests.

If you look up from your desk and see that none of your reps are on the phone, spin up an hour-long contest! If you see your average number of demos per day dropping, create a contest. After working with hundreds of clients, I can confidently say that the most successful businesses do not wait to launch sales contests. They see a problem, and then build a contest to create visibility around it as soon as possible, so their team can adjust behaviors immediately.

2. You complicate contests.

There’s a very specific reason I do not say: “You overcomplicate sales contests.” Contests should never be complex in any way. The only outcomes of a complex contest are non-impressive results and angry faces.

That being said, if you REALLY need to motivate your sales reps to give more demos to specific types of clients on specific days, while pitching specific products and filling in certain fields in your CRM, while spinning plates and hula hooping, fine. (NOTE: If you plan on using LevelEleven for this, we are still working on finding a way to motivate spin plates and hula hooping.) However, a simpler contest that doesn’t confuse your reps would be much more effective. Take it one step at a time:

  • First, award demos. Not any specific kind, just demos.
  • Then, analyze the results. Did you succeed in reaching your goal?
  • If yes: Great.
  • If not, where did the contest fail to meet your goal? Identify the answer to that and create a new contest motivating a more suitable behavior around demos.

Here’s a tip: Our most successful contests are those that motivate no more than two sales behaviors.

3. You run long contests.

Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution? How long did it last? If you decided to go to the gym more often and it only lasted weeks, you know why we suggest running short sales contests more frequently. After a while, without some form of recognition or satisfaction, the excitement wears off and you go back to your old habits. But, if New Year’s Day was every two weeks, maybe going to the gym would become an old habit.

4. You invite everyone to participate.

Nothing is more demotivating than looking at your sales leaderboard and seeing that you are in 305th. While being at or near the bottom of the leaderboard can be a great motivator in smaller contests, coming back from so far down the list is too much to handle for most reps. To avoid this, make sure sales contests have no more than 25 participants at a time. Seeing yourself at 24th place can give you the motivation to at least get into the top ten, even if winning the entire thing might not be an option.

So there you have it: the top four reasons most sales contests fail. Luckily, you won’t have to worry about making any of them as you build out future sales motivation campaigns…right?


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Sales Contest

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